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BoCC seeks Medicaid data

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The Board of County Commissioners is making a second request to the state government for information on the amount of monthly payments made to Delta County medical providers under the federally funded Medicaid program.

The BoCC had asked the county health department to make the request previously. The state's response said the information was not available because state bureaucrats responsible for compiling the information had been assigned "to other tasks."

That response was deemed wholly inadequate by the county commissioners. On Monday, they directed the county administrator to draft a "formal request" for the information from the director of the state's Health Care Policy and Finance department.

Until about three months ago the information was being provided to the county routinely, commissioners stated. Federal Medicaid payments to county health care providers had been running at record levels of about $1.2 million per month for several months at that time. Then the flow of payment information stopped.

"You could make an Open Records request which they would have to respond to in three to seven days," noted county attorney Jin Ho Pak. "But, making a formal request first is probably the nice thing to do."

The county commissioners see the information as an indication of the county's economic condition generally and they want a resumption of the data feed.

Commissioners Doug Atchley and Mark Roeber emphasized the information should be of interest and openly available to other counties also, and to the governor's office.

Commissioners have expressed concern over a looming state liability for Medicaid-covered individuals that was part of the Affordable Care Act. According to information provided by the Colorado Health Institute, Obamacare "provided financial incentives for states to expand Medicaid." In doing so, "The federal government promised to pay all costs of covering the newly [Medicaid] insured in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The state's share [of that cost] will start at five percent in 2017, growing to 10 percent by 2020 where it will remain."

Also, "The Colorado Health Institute estimates that Colorado will be spending $222 million annually for Medicaid expansion by 2020 -- its 10 percent share for the newly eligible Medicaid clients as well as its 50 percent share for [another class of] clients."

The institute also reports that "a majority of those [$222 million] state dollars will come from the hospital provider fee rather than the [state's] general fund."

How that approaching Medicaid liability may impact the county's economy and health care costs is unknown; but it is of interest to the BoCC which wants to keep an eye on trends in Medicaid reimbursements to local health care providers.

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